By Jimmy Brannon
Growing up in a family that owns a weekly newspaper has made election night a sentimental event. For many, many years, the election night trek was made to the courthouse to observe and ‘retrieve’ the election results for publication in the newspaper the next day. There was always stress and suspense….the newspaper was often being held up from being sent to the printer, all on strict deadlines so that the paper could get to the printer and then to the post office in time for mailing on Wednesday morning.
Not only did the results need to be gathered but they had to be checked and double checked and we had to, quickly, very quickly, in fact, write a brief story explaining the results to newspaper readers who would look forward to the paper being delivered on Wednesday morning.
Many years ago, the election counting at the courthouse was more eventful than now, without computers or paper printouts, but, rather, election officials shouting out precinct tallies while another official tallied the results on a board with a large crowd of candidates and interested onlookers. Oftimes there were multiple “right-ins” and they too, had to be tabulated and then reported in the newspaper.
When I had kids, I took my kids with me to the courthouse and I think from an early age they sensed the monumental gravity of the whole affair…..not just the election results, but the reporting in the newspaper, as well.
In the old days before internet and electronic upload of the newspaper to the printer, I physically carried the newspaper “flats,” the pages, to the printer in Cynthiana. In a hurry to meet the printer’s deadline, I ran the large box of flats into the Cynthiana Democrat back office greeted by the print crew.
On one occasion, I was about to return to my truck when I was met by son, Patrick, who was about 8, I guess, screaming to me: “the truck, the truck, Sarah did it, Sarah did it.”
I looked and my old Ford truck was rolling down the big hill outside the Cynthiana newspaper office, with Sarah, about 3, standing in the driver’s seat looking backwards.
In those days I could still run a 100 yard sprint in 10 flat and it is a good thing. I caught up with the truck, the driver’s side door still open, jumped in and brought the truck to a stop. (the old truck did not have a locking gear shift, and I never reached a consensus on how the two managed to get the gear shift out of park).
That night, as was frequently the case, we went to Lexington to eat and watch the returns on TV. This particular night, I remember it was Applebees. I’ve forgotten who won or lost in that particular election and, given the events that transpired, I don’t think I rightly cared.
Today, years later, Sarah, now a college graduate, still enjoys the courthouse trip and our journey to watch the returns.